Cut to the chase 

CUTS, a book of writings by minimalist Carl Andre, is as laconic as the floor-bound reductive sculptures the artist creates. Totaling about 250 pages of Andre texts and covering the period from 1959 through 2004, these “cuts” (short-length rather than feature-length writings) include artist statements, letters, postcards, epigrams, poems and even lengthier dialogues and interviews. Augmented with extensive notes, a lengthy bibliography and black-and-white illustrations of signal Andre works (including his long ago disassembled “Prime Terrain,” Detroit, 1976), this is now the primary, from-the-horse’s-mouth text on the artist. Such books are invaluable for the art historian, documenting ideas in gestation and formation, and for the general art reader in revealing something of the persona of the artist. This book, edited and with an introduction by formidable art historian James Meyer, is the latest from MIT Press’ laudable Writing on Art series, now some two-dozen books strong.

Andre is known for sculptures assembled of identical, constituent parts — whether steel plates or red cedar timbers — and his writings are no different; the 1964 “Essay on Sculpture” is such concrete words as arc, bridge, ditch, keg, log, rib, stair, urn. And his “Preface to My Work Itself,” from 1967, reads “in, is, my, of, art, the, into,/ made, same, this, work, parts,/ piled, piles, broken, pieces,/ stacks, clastic, stacked,/ identical, interchangeable.” As for his no-less-pithy sentence formulations, the book includes a quote from Andre in 1966 about his sculpture: “All I’m doing is putting Brancusi’s ‘Endless Column’ on the ground instead of in the sky. Most sculpture is priapic with the male organ in the air. In my work Priapus is down on the floor. The engaged position is to run along the earth.”

Dennis Alan Nawrocki is a freelance writer. Send comments to [email protected].

Tags: ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 26, 2022

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2022 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation